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Job Hopping Isn't Hazardous to Employers

Recruiters who focus on an applicant's history of frequent job changes instead of analyzing the overall fit for the position may be shortchanging their organizations, experts say. Such a focus also is an indicator of risk avoidance, rather than a positive strategic outlook.

Friday, May 11, 2012
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Employers would be well served not to pay much attention to a candidate's job history.

Indeed, a recent study by Evolv, a San Francisco-headquartered provider of data-driven selection tools and services, reveals there is essentially zero correlation between the number of jobs hourly call-center agents held and their future job tenure.

The study analyzed applicant data and employment outcomes of more than 21,000 call-center agents in five major contact centers.

Regardless of the call-center position held, the study finds that, just because someone hopped from job to job doesn't mean they're not going to stay in their next job.

"We went into the study with the expectation that people who had lots of different jobs, or none at all, were going to have very different kinds of outcomes from their next employer than those with more typical work histories," says Michael Housman, managing director of analytics. "But the study found that clearly wasn't the case."

Recruiters and hiring managers are much better off focusing their attention on other characteristics, such as job fit, personality and skills, he says.

Depending on the type of position, Housman estimates between 2 percent and 7 percent of call-center applications are rejected because of their experience and work history.

Clearly, he says, a more "nuanced understanding of the applicant and his or her personality" is warranted.

To ensure the best candidates are hired, Housman says, previous work experience needs to be placed within a much broader context.

JoAnne Kruse, founder of HCpartners in Chester, N.J., agrees that companies need to look beyond a single datapoint such as work history.

Although "job jumps" can sometimes be an indicator of a potential bad hire, Kruse says, the recruitment process requires "a careful evaluation of a candidate's qualifications and fit for a role." Weighting job history over and above other criteria, she adds, may very well result in losing out on some excellent talent. 

A recent study by TheLadders, a New York-based job-matching service, reports that recruiters spend just six seconds looking at a resume before deciding if a candidate is a good fit.

Bill Humbert, president of RecruiterGuy.com in Park City, Utah, believes recruiters need to be better trained in what to look for as they consider candidates, especially as companies emerge from the recent economic downturn.

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In this environment, he says, they're inevitably going to run across a lot of candidates who have either bounced around a lot or been unemployed.

If employers pass on candidates without having a decent conversation, Humbert says, "they're inevitably going to miss out on hiring good people."

 "Far too many managers haven't been properly taught how to interview and select good candidates," he adds.

Peter Weddle, president of Weddle's, a Stamford, Conn.-based publisher specializing in recruiting, suggests the larger issue for employers is whether or not their selection processes are focusing on the right goals.

"Fundamentally," he says, "selecting new hires to minimize attrition is a strategy of cost avoidance, while selecting them based on their potential for superior job performance is a strategy for revenue growth and profitability.

"In a highly competitive business environment such as the one that exists today," he says, "most CEOs will opt for the latter, and so should their HR departments."

Though the Evolv research was limited to call-center employees, Housman believes the findings would hold true in other fields that employ a significant number of hourly workers, such as retail and hospitality.

 
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